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Understanding Your Skin Type

Taking care of your skin can feel like a chore. Skin can be confusing, there are so many different products, ingredients and conflicting opinions about what you should or should not be doing. It is extremely tempting just to slap some moisturizer on and call it a day (maybe not even that). Luckily, I am here to save your ass in this three-part frequently asked questions series. I will give some insight into all things skin and answer any questions you have in the comments below!

Q: Why should I care about skin?

A: The skin is the body’s largest organ. Just like we want to know the ingredients of the food we are putting in our bodies, we should care about what kind of products we are putting on our skin. Unfortunately, the products that have traditionally been sold to consumers have hardly any regulations controlling the ingredients. Generally, this has led to a general lack of understanding about what is good for the skin and a lack of product efficacy. Education is key – once you understand your own skin and how it ticks, skincare can actually become simple and even enjoyable. Understanding skincare and what products to use can help improve the complexion and texture of skin, clear acne, prevent aging and sun damage and most importantly, improve confidence. Good skin days are always better days (and in my opinion better than good hair days)!

Q: What is a “skin type”?

A: In order to know how to best treat your skin the most important question you should ask yourself is what kind of skin you have. To cut to the chase, your skin produces oil. In a healthy or “normal” skin, oil production would be balanced. However, in most skins there is either a lack or excess of oil production. Or, some areas can produce more oil than others. Having a solid skincare routine can correct the balance of oil (or to get technical) sebum production.

Skin can be broken down into the following “types”:

  1. Oily: Can be “shiny” and prone to acne/blackheads.
  2. Dry: feels desperate for a moisturizer post-showering or cleansing. Prone to flakiness and dullness.
  3. Normal: balanced skin, neither oily or dry. It can at certain times change to a different type (e.g. in the winter normal skin can get dry).
  4. Combination: Prone to oiliness in the “t-zone” i.e. forehead, nose and chin. Usually dry around cheeks.
  5. Dehydrated: prone to dullness, feels desperate for moisture after showering or cleansing. Can also be flaky. Dehydrated skin tends to be confused with dry skin. The major difference between dry and dehydrated skin is that dry skin lacks oil whereas dehydrated skin lacks water. Dehydrated skin can occur in conjunction with the skin types mentioned above. For example, you could have oily skin and still be dehydrated.
  6. Sensitive: Similar to dehydrated skin, you can be sensitive and have another skin type. Can flare up when using new products and is prone to feeling itchy or uncomfortable with red blotches. Could be sensitive overall or just sensitive to certain ingredients (more on that later).

If you are unsure of your skin type, take a shower and then leave your skin alone for a few minutes. Observe how your skin feels. If it feels tight then most likely you are dry/dehydrated. If it feels normal or even oily then you probably have oily/combination skin.

I should note, however, that this is not an exact science. Everyone's skin is as unique as one's DNA, and what might work for one person with the same skin type may not work for another. Knowing what works, is best done through a process of experimentation.

Once you know your skin type your basic skincare routine is easy!